KwaZulu-Natal
National Parks

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Our most recommended KwaZulu-Natal National Parks

From St Lucia: Cape Vidal Full-Day Snorkeling Safari

1. From St Lucia: Cape Vidal Full-Day Snorkeling Safari

After pickup from your accommodations, your guide will take you on a safari drive in iSimangaliso Wetland Park. You'll have the chance to see many animals in their natural habitat including elephants, hippos, rhinos, hyenas, buffalos, zebras, wildebeest, antelopes, chameleons and if you're lucky, perhaps a leopard. Then head to the beach for 2 hours of snorkeling and discover over 50 different species of fish. If you're not a keen snorkeler, you can enjoy the beach on your own or go for a little birdwatching walk on the forest dunes of Cape Vidal with another guide. Your tour is conducted in a laid-back, yet professional manner and includes breakfast and a delicious African braai (barbeque) lunch.

From Underberg: Sani Pass Day Tour

2. From Underberg: Sani Pass Day Tour

The Sani Pass is regarded by some as having the most spectacular views in South Africa. Originally a bridle path, it has become a ‘bucket list’ experience that is not to be missed. Walls of sandstone, cascading rivers, and hair-raising bends are just some of the highlights as your 4x4 vehicle takes you through the Barrier of Spears and into the Kingdom of Lesotho.  Visit a living Basotho village and meet its people for a true cultural experience. The highest pub in Africa welcomes you with a hearty lunch and refreshments before your journey back down the pass to Underberg. 

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi: Big 5 Full or Half-Day Safari

3. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi: Big 5 Full or Half-Day Safari

Experience the rolling hills of the Savannah grasslands and a magical African sunrise. Sit back and relax while your ranger takes you to the best areas within the park. With trained eyes and years of experience, your ranger will undoubtedly deliver some magnificent sightings. Learn more about this fascinating park and the incredible history of when King Shaka used the lower Umfolozi as his personal hunting grounds or how the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park single-handedly saved the rhinos from near extinction. The park is home not only to the African Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) but also includes cheetahs, wild dogs, and many more. Enjoy breakfast and lunch at one of the numerous scenic picnic areas within the park. The tour concludes with a drop off at the Nyalazi Gate or alternatively, drop off back at your accommodation in St. Lucia.

Drakensberg Kamberg Cave Art & Mandela Capture Site Day Tour

4. Drakensberg Kamberg Cave Art & Mandela Capture Site Day Tour

Your tour starts off with a visit to Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal. There you will stop at Pietermaritzburg's City Hall, which claims to be the largest brick building in the southern hemisphere. Visit the Gandhi statue before heading towards the Drakensberg mountains. Your main stop is Kamberg Nature Reserve which forms part of the Maloti- Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site and is situated centrally in the foothills of the mountains. The reserve was proclaimed in 1951 and is 6,300 ha in extent. This reserve is particularly scenic, with many walks throughout the area. The natural landscape has many rock shelters, containing San rock paintings. These were created by the San people over a period of at least 4,000 years. The rock paintings are outstanding in quality and diversity representing the spiritual life of the San people who no longer live in the region. From there, head to the small town of Howick and visit its waterfall. Howick Falls is approximately 95m high and lies on the Umgeni River. The Zulu people called the falls KwaNogqaza, which means "Place of the Tall One".   We visit the Nelson Mandela Capture Site Statue and Apartheid Museum. The Nelson Mandela sculpture comprises of 50 steel column constructions – each between 6.5m and 9.5m tall – set into the Midlands landscape. The approach to the site leads you down a path towards the sculpture where, at 35 meters, a portrait of Nelson Mandela, looking west, comes into focus. The 50 linear vertical units, line up to create the illusion of a flat image. The museum is dedicated to Nelson Mandela’s life and his struggle against Apartheid.

From St. Lucia: iSimangaliso Sunset Safari

5. From St. Lucia: iSimangaliso Sunset Safari

Get picked up from your hotel in St. Lucia and travel to the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, a huge protected area along the coast of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province. The park’s centerpiece is the vast Lake St. Lucia, home to a large number of hippos, crocodiles, pelicans, and flamingos. Elephants, giraffes, and leopards inhabit the grasslands and forests of the nearby Western Shores and Charters Creek areas. To the north, Sodwana Bay is known for its colorful coral reefs. Upon arrival, gear up and set off on an exciting three-hour drive through the park's many ecosystems. Keep an eye out for the wide variety of species that call iSimangaliso home. As the sun begins to set, your guide will take you to the perfect spot to appreciate the African sunset. When darkness falls, take on the challenge of spotting chameleons and other nocturnal species, all of which are more active after nightfall. Get dropped off back at your accommodation in St Lucia.

iSimangaliso: Guided Walking Safari

6. iSimangaliso: Guided Walking Safari

After meeting your guide at the St Lucia Crocodile Centre, you'll begin your 2.5-hour tour of the famous iSimangaliso Wetland Park. iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a sprawling collection of stunningly-preserved natural ecosystems that span over 1,200 square miles; the park is centered around the vast Lake St Lucia, where you’ll have the change to see hippos, crocodiles, pelicans, and flamingos. After learning about crocodile breeding, feeding, anatomy, general ecology, and distribution, you’ll head off across trails through the game park with your expert ecologist guide. Take in information about the park’s famous residents, like blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, and waterbuck.  Continuing into the wilderness, become one with nature as you walk through picturesque trails. Common animal sightings include the red and grey duiker, waterbuck, impala, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, reedbuck, chameleon, and on very special occasions, leopard and hyena. Afterwards, you’ll head back to the starting point, having been enriched by the beauty of South Africa’s diverse ecosystems.

Durban: Hluhluwe Imfolozi Safari & iSimangaliso Tour

7. Durban: Hluhluwe Imfolozi Safari & iSimangaliso Tour

Previously known as the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, iSimangaliso Wetlands Park was declared South Africa's first Natural World Heritage Site (UNESCO), and is considered South Africa's third-largest park with 280 kilometers of near-pristine coastline and 328,000 hectares of magnificent scenery. The protected area is home to one of the largest populations of hippopotami in SA, an estimated 1,000 crocodiles and a wealth of plant, bird and animal life. Animals in the park include lions, African elephants, leopards, black and southern white rhino, and buffalo. In the ocean, there are whales, dolphins, and marine turtles, including the leatherback and loggerhead turtle. After the boat tour, travel to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. Your experienced guide will show you around the park in a closed vehicle in search of the diverse wildlife and Africa's Big 5, which include the lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, and rhinoceros. The reserve is set in the heart of Zululand, where these amazing animals roam the flourishing savannah. Established in 1895, this is the oldest park in South Africa and is 98,000 hectares in size. The Park contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora and is characterized by hilly topography. The list of animals at the park is long and varied. Hluhluwe, the northern section of the park, is noted for its wide variety of both bird and animal life. Imfolozi Game Reserve is situated in the southern section of the park. Today, the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park is world-renowned for its white rhino conservation efforts and its Centenary Capture Center which is setting improved standards for game capture and sustainable utilization in Africa. Your guide will stop at Hilltop Camp restaurant giving you time to refuel and relax. The restaurant is situated at the top of the hill and gives visitors the chance to enjoy the scenery of the camp and surrounding areas. Afterwards, you will continue with your safari before leaving the park for Durban.

From Durban: Half-Day Safari Tour

8. From Durban: Half-Day Safari Tour

Your first stop is Natal Lion Park which is home to a variety of wildlife including African and Asian Elephants, Rhinos and lions. After a drive around the park you will enter the Lion’s enclosure to marvel at size and beauty of these great cats. Finally visit Tala Game Reserve, a wildlife sanctuary spanning over 3000 hectares. It features over 380 bird species and a variety of wildlife that includes Rhino, Giraffe, Kudu, Hippo and Eland in a beautiful, relaxing setting. You will then be returned to your preferred drop-off location in Durban.

Sani Pass: Day Tour from Durban

9. Sani Pass: Day Tour from Durban

Beginning early at 6:00AM from the coastal city of Durban, your professional driver will collect you from your hotel in a well maintained vehicle, before you head out of the city towards the mountains. After passing the historical city of Pietermaritsburg, your tour will turn towards the Southern Drakensberg Mountain Range. For the next hour you will pass through mountains and valleys, which are dotted with small rural villages steeped in traditions. At approximately 9:00AM, you will arrive at the tiny mountain town of Underberg, which lies at the base of the Sani Pass. Here you will transfer to a comfortable 4-wheel-drive vehicle. Without a doubt, the Sani Pass is one of the most spectacular and scenic mountain passes in Africa. It lies between the Southern Drakensburg Mountains and the landlocked country of Lesotho, and your highly experienced and professional guide will take you through the South African border control. For the next 8 kilometers, the gravel road winds steeply up the pass towards the summit of the Drakensberg to the Lesotho border post. The sharp bends and panoramic mountains make this a photographer's paradise, in an area which has been described as "Southern Africa's Switzerland". Once there you will visit a local living Basotho village where you can learn about their customs and traditions. This village was originally built to care for the shepherds in the mountains, who tend flocks the year round, you may even be lucky to catch a glimpse of these tough blanket-clad men. Following this you will head towards the "highest pub in Africa" for some well earned refreshments, and perhaps even a taste of the local Maluti Beer if so inclined. Following your adventure is a gentle drive back to Durban, which will will see you at your destination at approximately 6:30PM depending on weather and traffic conditions.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi & Emdoneni Wild Cat Project Tour

10. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi & Emdoneni Wild Cat Project Tour

The tour departs from Durban heading up the coast to northern KwaZulu-Natal. You will arrive at the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi gate 2.5 hours after departing from Durban. Your experienced guide will show you around the park in search of the diverse wildlife and Big 5. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is set in the heart of Zululand where Africa’s Big 5 (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhinoceros) roam the flourishing savannah. Established in 1895 this is the oldest park in South Africa and is 98 000 hectares. This tour is in a closed vehicle. The Park contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora and is characterized by hilly topography. The list of animals at the park is long and diverse. Hluhluwe, the northern section of the park, is noted for its wide variety of both bird and animal life. Imfolozi Game Reserve is situated in the southern section of the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park. Today, the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park is world renowned for its White Rhino conservation and its Centenary Capture Centre is setting exceptional standards for animal capture and sustainable utilization in Africa. Your guide will stop for lunch at Hilltop Camp (at own expense) giving you time to refuel and relax. The restaurant is situated at the top of the hill and gives visitors the chance to enjoy the scenery of the camp and surrounding areas. After lunch you will continue with your safari before leaving the park on route to Emdoneni Wild Cat Sanctuary. Emdoneni Cat Project offers a guided tour about South Africa’s endangered wild cat species. The aim of the Emdoneni Cat Project is to care for cheetahs, serval cats, African wildcats and caracal (lynx), that have been orphaned or injured in the wild and need care and rehabilitation. During the guided tour to the cat project, visitors can see some of these South Africa’s endangered cat species. After the tour, start the two hours journey back to Durban for drop-off.

Frequently asked questions about KwaZulu-Natal National Parks

What are other things to do than National Parks that are worth visiting in KwaZulu-Natal?

The other unmissable things to do in KwaZulu-Natal are:

Other Sightseeing Options in KwaZulu-Natal

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What people are saying about KwaZulu-Natal

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 19 reviews

Had a truly amazing experience and even though we had a quiet drive in the morning we got to learn so much about the local bird and plant life. In the afternoon, the snorkeling was great especially as a first timer. A fantastic adventure in a beautiful part of the country I'll definitely recommend to anyone.

An excellent day out - our guide Spi was great - he shared a lot of information with us and was an excellent host who really took great care of us, and esp our two children. The game viewing was great, the snorkelling very good but certainly it was all made better by an excellent guide, Spi.

Awesome trip with Johan. Scenery is spectacular. Got to see enough game and plenty of birds. The snorkelling might have been a bit short but the water was very clear and the variety of fish was surprising. Both breakfast and lunch were excellent.

Extra half-day safari. We also did the kriger park but we saw fewer animals than in Hululuwe!

Great experience. Many animals and a top guide with lots of interesting anecdotes!